ATTAPPADI tribal zone in Kerala is always in the news, but due to bad reasons. Recently Kerala ministers were caught in controversies after their statements concerning the social and economic conditions prevailing there. There were several reports and NGO findings suggesting that vanvasis living there are suffering from malnutrition and about 54 had child deaths occurred there during the last one and half years ! Absence of necessary food materials in the ration shops, acute poverty and unemployment had been pointed out as the reasons for the health hazards being faced by the people . But, CM of Kerala was not ready to accept the argument of malnutrition. He said, tribals were not eating properly. But, his cabinet colleague KC Joseph, who is in charge of Rural Development, went to the extent of telling the media that it all happens due to the wide spread consumption of alcohol, especially among pregnant women. But, tribals and several social NGOs blasted the CM and Jospeh for insulting tribals. It was pointed out that every tribal family, even though was entitled to have 35 kg rice every month from ration shop, was only getting 17 kgs of rice. And, rehabilitation programme for pregnant women were not adequate.
The arguments and counter arguments about the aforementioned subject have hardly settled down; then comes a dangerous news from Attappadi: Carefully orchestrated conversion of tribals into Christianity. It is reported that Government of Kerala has appointed a special team led by a Superintendent of Police to inquire into the conversions taking place there. Organiser weekly understands that about 11 Pentecostal churches are operating in Attappadi. “Thaykkula Sangham”, an organisation working for the welfare of the tribal women, blame that the tribal welfare projects sponsored by them do not get permission from the authorities. But, if they are sponsored by the Christian missionaries, government permission is smooth and fast. This results in the erosion of credibility of the ‘Sangham’ and, tribal people develop more faith in missionaries. Workers of Swami Vivekandanda Medical Mission in Atappadi told that even though tribals are trying their level best to resist the pressure and temptations from the side of the missionaries, about 3 to 4 tribal families a year are falling prey to their design and convert themselves into Christianity. But, conversion does not take place officially. Even after the conversion rituals, they are living as Hindus as per records, hence get all the benefits the tribal Hindus deserve. They still maintain their Hindu names as well.
It is clear that Chirstian forces are taking advantage of the dark realities the tribals do face as mentioned above.
Organiser spoke to Dr V. Narayanan, the senior doctor in Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission Hospital, in Attappadi, belonging to Seva Vibhag of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It is equipped with 10 beds and doctors visit Vanvasi ooru (settlement villages) with mobile units for taking medical aid to the door steps of the tribals.
Pentecostal Church runs a hospital beyond the Tamil Nadu border and utilises it for the conversion activities. Lot of sops are offered. Free delivery service and treatment for the tribal women is one among them. They are alleged to be deploying pastors for conversions. As lot of complaints came up against conversion drives and since Hindu organisations took up the matter, police authorities are reported to have told the missionaries to stop conversions; otherwise they would have to face actions. This warning was given after summoning the pastors to the police station. The police report is to said to have stated that conversion drive causes tension in the area. Since government permission is required to construct churches, they are using the houses of missionaries or converted Hindus as prayer houses and use it for conversion purposes. Hindu organisations trust that government will go ahead with sincere actions sans any minority appeasement.